|Middlesbrough 0 v 1 Birmingham City|
Saturday, 16th January 2021 Kick-off 12:30
Middlesbrough 0-1 Birmingham City: Match report
Saturday, 16th Jan 2021 14:27 by Phil Spencer
Middlesbrough were on the receiving end of an Aitor Karanka masterclass as they fell to a 1-0 defeat against Birmingham City.
It was a frustrating afternoon for the Teessiders who lost vital ground in their push for the play-off places.
Neil Warnock picked a strong side for the clash with the Blues however it was the visitors who looked stronger during the first 45 minutes.
Barring a George Saville header that was cleared away it was Birmingham who dominated and got their reward when Scott Hogan converted from close range after some good work from Ivan Sanchez on the right flank.
That goal seemed to wake up the home side with Sam Morsy going close with a header that was cleared off the line, before Marcus Tavernier stung the palms of Neil Etheridge with a vicious free-kick from range.
But Neil Warnock had seen enough as the teams went in for half-time and acted accordingly.
A triple change at the break saw Jonny Howson, Djed Spence and Britt Assombalonga replace Sam Morsy, Lewis Wing and Chuba Akpom - an alteration that nearly reaped immediate rewards.
Within seconds of the restart Assombalonga skewed his effort wide of the mark after some excellent work from Saville to get into a dangerous position.
In truth the Teessiders offered precious little in terms of opportunities to get into the game with Karanka's side side sitting deep to soak up any potential threat that was posed upon them.
Warnock then introduced Duncan Watmore who had a wonderful opportunity to draw the game level but fired his effort straight at the goalkeeper.
As the game moved into the final stages the Blues looked every bit as likely to be the side to get the next goal in the game.
But while they didn't manage to add insult to injury it was Karanka's side who took a vital three points and left his former club with work to do as they reach the halfway stage of the season.
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Photo: Action Images
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